Cultivated Pastures

Cultivated Pastures

 

highly productive forage lands used to graze livestock. They are created by improving the surface of natural forage lands or old unproductive grasslands and by sowing grass mixtures on newly reclaimed lands. A distinction is made between short-term (five to six years) and long-term (seven to ten or more years) use of cultivated pastures. Cultivated pastures were started at the end of the 19th century chiefly in countries with developed livestock raising, such as the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden. It was not until the 1930’s that they were created in the USSR.

The quickest and cheapest way to create cultivated pastures, especially in regions of adequate moisture, is to improve the surface of natural forage lands. This is done by destroying grassy hillocks, molehills, and shrubs, removing stones, controlling the water regime, and leveling and liming the surface. Meadow-pasture leguminous and gramineous grasses are undersown on plots with very sparse, worthless grass stands. Before the grasses are undersown, the sod is disked with heavy disk harrows. After the undersowing, the soil is packed by rollers and rotted manure or mineral fertilizers are placed on the surface. These actions guarantee the transformation of naturally unproductive grass stands into highly productive ones in three to five years. For example, in transforming old clover fields that have been used for three or four years, phosphorus-potassium fertilizers are added systematically and organic fertilizers periodically. To create the desired grass stand more quickly, 2–3 kg per hectare (ha) of white, alsike, or red clover is undersown in the spring.

In creating cultivated pastures by sowing grass mixtures, it is best to use waterlogged peat and shallow soddy-calcareous soils if the pastures are intended for short-term use and more fertile soils if the pastures are for long-term use. Before grass is sown on lands with excessive moisture, they are drained, freed from scrub and stones, and then plowed with a brush-marsh plow to a depth of 25–40 cm, followed by disking and packing. Plots with compact sod are rototilled and packed by a water-filled roller. Plots with sod no more than 18 cm thick are plowed with ordinary plows and then disked and harrowed. Organic fertilizers are added before plowing and mineral fertilizers afterward. Grass mixtures are sown either immediately after the soil surface is leveled or after preliminary (two to four years) cultivation of grain, industrial, vegetable, and other crops.

The grass mixtures consist of leguminous and gramineous grasses sown at the rate of 25–35 kg per ha and 30–40 kg per ha for short-term and long-term pastures, respectively. They are sown under a cover of cereals or legumes and without a cover (rapid grassing). To create long-term cultivated pastures, grass mixtures are usually sown without a cover and early in the season. By fall the grasses are well developed and they form a typical pasture grass stand one to two years earlier than when a cover sowing is used.

Cultivated pastures require proper management, including mowing for the winter (if the grasses develop rapidly the first year), supplemental fertilization in early spring or fall, mowing down of inedible plants, dispersing of animal excrements, and irrigation in arid years. Rotation or alternate grazing is essential. The area of cultivated pasture per cow (for the entire grazing period) is 0.5–0.6 ha if the yield is 2,500–3,000 feed units and 0.25 ha if the yield is 6,000–8,000 feed units (with irrigation).

REFERENCES

Toomre, R. I. Dolgoletnie kul’turnye pastbishcha. Moscow, 1966.
Ivanov, D. A. Kul’turnye pastbishcha. Leningrad, 1967.

A. P. MOVSISIANTS

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